I visited Page, Arizona when I was 12 years old. My experience back then took me to a resort on the shores of Lake Powell. This experience influenced my decision to see Lake Powell again this summer. I am so glad I did!
In my last post, I wrote about visiting Antelope Canyon off Rte 98 on my second day in Page. On my first day, I visited a different location called Horseshoe Bend. Horseshoe Bend is so photogenic it's worth walking through the heat of the desert to see it. Unlike Antelope Canyon, there's no cost to go there!
Later in the day, I went to the lake. A hefty park fee almost kept me from experiencing the epic beauty of Lake Powell again. Thanks to my Airbnb host, I was able to swim in it's clear, blue waters once again—and also for free!
Horseshoe Bend Views
The afternoon was late and the heat was rising. Erin and I entered the lot near Horseshoe Bend. A trail led from the parking lot across the desert to a cliffside overlooking the Colorado River.
This short, 15-minute walk was a dangerous hike at this hour. My rental car thermometer read 105-degrees. Hundreds of tourists were walking it anyway.
There's a reason so many tourists visit Horseshoe Bend. The views are stunning.
It's difficult to tell how stunning it is as you are hiking up to it. The view ahead looks like a vague hole in the ground. You would never know this view is over this ledge...
...that looks like this:
People take photographs here at all hours of the day: From nightfall to capture galaxy views to peak sunshine hours when the water glistens.
I loved the way the sunlight danced on the surface of the blue-green waters below.
I rode a raft down that river with my family 18 years ago. My parents took my brother and I to Page. We paid for an epic raft trip that traveled right around the bend you see above.
I had a glorious view from down there. At one point, we stopped for lunch and had the opportunity the check out some cave paintings. All in all it was a great tour. But I had no idea how epic the view was from up top!
I am fortunate to have experienced Horseshoe Bend from both viewpoints.
A First Attempt To Access Lake Powell
I chose Page as my first overnight destination on my road trip al because of Lake Powell.
I have fond memories of renting jet skis with my brother and parents on this lake. We took them across the open blue water. We drove right into little inlets. We got out to explore caves cut into the lake's surrounding red-yellow, rock walls.
I fell in love with jet skiing on Lake Powell.
We were a boater family back in New York, but we had never tried jet skis before. After that trip, we bought our first jet ski as a family and I was hooked.
I didn't think Erin and I would rent jet skis on Lake Powell this time. Still, I was hell bent on giving Erin an up-close tour of Lake Powell while we were in the area. I wanted to at least have the chance to swim there. What I didn't know was how expensive it was going to be.
We arrived in Page in the late afternoon. I popped the address of the resort I had stayed at 2 decades ago into the GPS. The address took us across the Glen Canyon Dam. This dam created Lake Powell. We drove over it and along the Lake, turning on a smaller road toward a booth.
A ranger at the booth told us there was a $25 fee to access the Lake for a week. We were only going to be there for one night. Feeling a bit surprised, and certain we could find another, cheaper way in, we turned back. We tried a few more roads but all had a booth and a fee.
Luckily, our Airbnb host gave us a helpful tip to get us down to the lake for free!
Lake Powell For Free: Why Staying With Locals Rocks
There are actually two ways into the Lake without fees. One is to access the Lake super, duper early before the booth people show up for work. Drive right through and lo and behold--free access to Lake Powell!
Well, our schedule did not allow for it. We had a 6AM tour scheduled for Antelope Canyon the next morning. So we relied on the suggestion from out host, Aemi.
Aemi told us about "The Chains." This is an area of the lake accessible by car and where locals go to swim Lake Powell for no fee. You park and go on foot down rocks to a little cove.
At first, Erin and I could not find the entrance. Aemi wrote out some instructions for us, but we got lost. She was sweet enough to drive over in her car and lead the way to The Chains.
This is one of those moments where I plug Airbnb stays. In fact, any stay involving more interaction with locals is best. Couchsurfing is another one.
When you stay with a local, you learn all sorts of secrets about the area that you may have never known! Not to mention, it's much more cost effective.
The Chains hike is quite easy to find. It's down a dirt road to the right before you go over the Dam and near the Hanging Gardens hike. Find the Hanging Garden hike marker on Google Maps and you've found the road to the Chains.
Picking our way down the rocks, Erin and I were giddy with delight. We felt mischievous finding access such a sweet spot for no fee. It made the experience that much more valuable.
We jumped in the water—cold and refreshing in the burning heat of midday.
I also spent some time exploring the surrounding layered rocks and craggy peaks.
The views as I sat atop one bulbous outcropping was a feast for my eyes. There was the dam in the background. Jet-skiers were zooming past. And the bright, blue lake contrasted against the yellow rocks. I found heaven in Page, Arizona.
My memories from when I was 12 years old were right. Page, Arizona is a gorgeous place to visit especially for its lake and river views.
This is the place for you if you love to take in beautiful scenery, snap epic photos, swim in cool, fresh water, and explore rocky desert lands. For me, Page hit all these marks and more!